KSL INVESTIGATES

Gephardt: Can You Get A Vacation Rental Refund When Natural Disaster Strikes?

Feb 22, 2021, 6:15 PM | Updated: 11:45 pm

KEARNS, Utah – The pandemic has left thousands of would-be travelers without refunds, but what about when a natural disaster torches your vacation plans?

When a devastating wildfire cut off roads and made a VRBO rental unreachable for a Utah man, he found his request for a refund was going nowhere, so he turned to the KSL Investigators for help.

Richard McCune and his family love traveling to the Oregon coast for their family reunions. Theyve done for it several years now. This past September when they planned another reunion, McCune got word that a raging wildfire had burned its way to their destination. The day before departure, he got through to the owner of the home rental he booked and paid $2,000 for.

And he said, ‘Well, the power is out right now. Theres restrictions on getting into the city and things like that and the air quality is certainly bad,’ recounted McCune. And so, we mutually decided we would cancel the reservation.

Turns out, it wasn’t so mutual. Weeks later, McCune only got a $400 damage deposit back. Making matters worse, the owner stopped talking.

Weve made repeated phone calls, left voicemails, text, emails through VRBO, he said.

McCune booked the rental through VRBO, and he said they werent much help.

They say that only the property owner can authorize a refund, he said. 

Richard McCune’s vacation to the Oregon coast was canceled because of wildfires. The KSL Investigators helped get a refund. (KSL-TV)

McCune said that VRBO even sent multiple messages to the owner and still he did not hear a response.

Worried that $1,600 was about to go up in smoke, McCune decided it was time to contact the KSL Investigators and we reached out to both VRBO and the owner of the home rental on his behalf. Neither responded to us.

We began by looking at VRBO’s terms and conditions and, indeed, they spell out that choosing to grant a refund for canceled travel plans is up to the host — even in the event of a disaster. They will mediate disputes between renters and hosts but they will not guarantee refunds even in events beyond the renters control like natural disasters or pandemics.

What about an owner who doesnt respond to anyone? We asked VRBO about that, too, with no answer. Perhaps one of them got the message because days later, McCune got his full refund. 

The biggest frustration he said was the hosts silence.

Just tell us to go to heck if you want to, you know, or whatever, said McCune.

The takeaway for everyone is if you’re booking lodging through VRBO, Airbnb, or whatever home rental, look at each listings fine print carefully because each has its own cancellation policy. Some owners are very flexible, others are very strict while others fall somewhere in between.

You may want to consider cancel for any reason travel insurance.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

FILE - Thousand gather at the Utah State Capitol to support a woman's right to choose. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera

‘It was hastily passed’: Medical, legal experts raise concerns about Utah’s abortion trigger law

Senate Bill 174, passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020, was crafted, in part, to send a message. Now, medical and legal experts are sounding alarm bells about how it will work in practice.
2 days ago
FILE - Credit and deposit cards on a computer keyboard. Electronic commerce, business. Online shopp...
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Americans shy away from using credit cards abroad, missing out on best exchange rates

As COVID-19 wanes, travel agencies are seeing a massive spike in bookings as folks look to spread their wings and travel abroad.
2 days ago
KSL-TV's Matt Gephardt talks to the couple to see how this accident happen....
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Utah couple gets hit with sky-high surprise air ambulance bill

A perk of hitting that out-of-pocket max limit on your health insurance is usually, your insurance covers all other expenses for the year 100%. When a Highland couple continued to get bills, they asked KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt for help.
5 days ago
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are all making news with wild up-and-down swings in value. (File...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Congress considers crypto legislation: What you need to know

It's been a rough year for cryptocurrencies. Prices reached record heights this past November, but by last week, crypto has lost $2 trillion of its market value. Now, there's a new plan for the Feds to regulate cryptocurrencies.
6 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Despite growing demand for digital coupons, most are still printed

Researchers found that 91% of all coupons are old-fashioned paper coupons. That’s a problem when you compare it to consumer demand.
9 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Gephardt busts inflation: Is saving hundreds on your internet bill worth the hassle?

When you sign up for internet, you need a modem to connect and router for your home's Wi-Fi. But most internet service providers charge you to use their equipment, on top of what you pay for their plan. But did you know you can buy your own and potentially save hundreds of dollars? The thing is, it’s not necessarily that simple.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Gephardt: Can You Get A Vacation Rental Refund When Natural Disaster Strikes?